Caribbean RoundUp

Several tourists enjoy Rockley beach, in the resort town of Rockley, in the parish Church Christ, Barbados. Hotels across the Caribbean stand empty, beachfronts void of tourists as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Associated Press/Chris Brandis

Barbados

The Barbados government has lashed out at the United States over its travel ban advisory in which Washington warned Americans against travel to the island in the wake of the Covid-10 pandemic.

In a statement issued last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the “The No Travel” advisory suggests Covid-19 is very prevalent in Barbados.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has the further honor to state that Barbados condemns any travel advisory which, absent of any publicly verifiable date, advocates for the prohibition of travel to Barbados on the suggestion that such is inherently dangerous for international travelers,” the statement said.

The ministry also expressed concern that the advisory does not give US travelers the opportunity to make an informed decision on travel to the island.

“At the same time, Barbados notes that some countries have retained a Level-3 advisory from the Department of State, while maintaining a Level-4 CDC advisory as at April 2020,” it said.

The ministry also said Barbados had not identified additional coronavirus variants of concern that would significantly diminish vaccine efficacy and had implemented a triple-test and quarantine requirement for unvaccinated international travelers, well in access of regional entry protocols, to minimize the possibility of local transmission through imported cases,” the foreign minister said.

Barbados now joins 129 other nations, about 80 percent of the world to receive the new label from the US State Department.

 

Guyana

United States-based ExxonMobil has said it is reducing oil production offshore Guyana by 90,000 barrels a day.

It noted that it has taken a decision to mitigate the formation of hydrates in subsea systems, maintain gas injection and fuel gas to the power generators and minimize flare blaming.

In a recent statement, the company — which is the operator of the Liza Phase One Well — said that production will now be 30,000 barrels daily, down from the 120,000 barrels a day.

The company noted that a team from SBM Offshore, Man Energy Solutions and ExxonMobil is on site to assess repairs, with support from engineering experts in Europe and the United States.

ExxonMobil said the relevant government agencies have been notified and “we are continuing to talk with officials to determine the next best steps.”

The announcement by the oil company comes almost three months after a troublesome flash gas compressor malfunctioned and had to be re-installed.

 

Grenada

Grenada says it is in the first stage of implementing a strategy that will result in the island becoming a major supplier of fresh produce in the southern Caribbean as a result of the inability of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to meet its obligations as a result of the erupting La Soufriere volcano.

Minister of Agriculture, Peter David said the volcano, which has been erupting explosively since April 9, will create a food shortage in the region and Grenada is placing itself in a position to reduce the impact of the fallout.

He told reporters it was going to have a long-term serious impact on St. Vincent and “I dare say food availability in the southern Caribbean is an important issue for us, and St. Vincent has been in a sense a major producing/supplier of many agricultural products including livestock.”

‘We have already looked at several government estates to determine what we going to produce,  but we have to first determine what the market demands because we have to produce what the market wants,” said David.

He reminded reporters that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is well known for its mass production of roots crops such as tania, sweet potatoes and dasheen.

 

Jamaica

The Jamaica economy is showing signs of recovery from the resultant fallout as a result pf the Covid-19 pandemic, despite contracting by 8.3 per cent for the October to December 2020 quarter, relative to the corresponding period the previous rear, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) reported.

In a review of the latest key indicators, STATIN said the December 2020 quarter contracting was primarily due to an 11.1 percent decline in the services industry.

STATIN’s Director General, Carol Coy, said however, that the goods-producing industry grew by 0.2 percent, adding that when compared with the July to September 2020 quarter, the economy grew by 0.9 percent during the review period.

She told the virtual presentation of the quarterly report the December 2020 out-turn represented “a continuation of the third quarter’s growth relative to the second (April to June) quarter 2020”.

STATIN indicated that despite the economy contacting by 10.7 percent in the September 2020 quarter, this was an 8.3 percentage point improvement on the out-turn for the proceeding period.

 

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris is calling for greater public education programs to combat the growing trend of vaccine hesitancy in the Caribbean, particularly as it relates to the Covid-19 vaccines.

He said there are strong pockets of Covid-19 vaccines hesitancy and skepticism and these must be addressed through targeted messaging and sensitization.

Harris in his address to observe the recent CARICOM Vaccination Week in the Americas noted the Caribbean has done well in the implementation of public health measures such as social distancing, mask wearing and frequent had washing but insisted the “mass vaccination to achieve herd community, as has been demonstrated with polio, is the trump card that is sadly missing.”

“The Caribbean region will not be safe until 70 to 90 percent of the population is vaccinated. All eligible adults in the wider Caribbean region should have access to vaccines,” he said, adding, “vaccination will boost the tourism sector and place us on the path to sustainable and resilient recovery.”

 

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is again urging relatives in the region and abroad to send money instead of small packages to their loves ones impacted by the La Soufriere Volcano eruption, as packages are clogging the island’s seaport.

He said there are a number of central supplies that have come, which need urgently to be cleared to help assist all the people in shelters, which is now 7,000 and just under 7,000 in private homes.

Gonsalves again stressed that after every natural disaster in the region there is a backlog of goods to be cleared at the port.

He said the most sensible thing for relatives to do is send money to their loved ones.

The prime minister said some people are creating the impression that there was no food in supermarkets on the island and no crops on the land, but this was not true.

Acknowledging the long lines outside money transfer locations around the island, Gonsalves said efforts are being made to make more locations available to Vincentians receiving money from abroad.

After a two-week shutdown due to heavy ash fall from the La Soufriere eruption on April 9, Argyle International Airport in St Vincent has returned to full operation.

 

Trinidad

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley last week ordered a wide-scale lockdown of Trinidad and Tobago affecting many businesses, including restaurants, bars, casinos, malls, gyms, spas, cinemas and others, which took effect last week until May 23.

The announcement came as the Ministry of Health has reported the steep rise in in the number of positive Covid-19 cases in one week reach a record 328 new cases in one day of the virus and four new deaths — the 19 and 20 deaths for the month of April.

And on Monday the country was bracing for more stringent measures which he promised to announce at a press conference later that day.

The prime minister announced the re-instatement of an almost total lockdown at this first in-person news conference last week in Tobago.

In announcing the measure, the prime minister said the police will be cracking down on “house parties, family gatherings, liming by a house next to a bar and those kinds of things.

The Public Service will operate on essential services only, as would travel to Tobago.

There would be no take-out or food deliveries, as was allowed during last year’s lockdown.

The National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said on Sunday that there will be a crackdown on all 15 beaches across T&T to stop the influx of illegal Venezuelan immigrants.

As of last Sunday, the Ministry of Health reported four more deaths and 234 new positive Covid cases.

T&T’s overall confirmed Covid-19 cases total now stands at 11,313 of which 2,506 are still active.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC